Sardis Verlag

New Postcards Available!

Sardis VerlagComment

Today, two more DIN A6 sized postcards have become available in our web shop. The first card, which we previewed last week, depicts the lands of modern Israel and its neighbors in the first decades of our era, while the second one displays our Southern Etruria and Latium Vetus map, that was first published as an ancillary map on our big poster The Achaemenid Empire and the West.

Postcard Iudaea: Map of ancient Judea and surrounding territories from the end of Herod Archelaus' reign to the first year of Emperor Claudius (6 – 41 CE).

Our map depicts the first phase of direct Roman rule in Judea. After king Herod died in 4 BCE, his realm was divided. The Greek cities of Hippos, Gadara and Gaza were detached from royal rule and became part of the province of Syria. Peraea and Galilee became a separate tetrarchy under Herod Antipas, while Philippos' tetrarchy included the outlying north eastern regions. The heartland of the kingdom was first under the reign of Herod Archelaus, who was already deposed by emperor Augustus in 6 CE. Subsequently, his territories became the Province Iudaea, governed by an equestrian prefect. More here.

Postcard Latium: Map of southern Etruria and ancient Latium in an era when the Etruscan civilization had reached its zenith and Rome flourished for a first time.

The map encompasses the Roman territory and its surroundings in the final years of the 6th century BCE. For a first time the Roman state gained control over the entire original region of Latium (Latium Vetus, a more limited area than later Roman and modern Latium) and a stretch of the coast down to Terracina. This first “Roman Empire” was only short lived. Already in the first decades of the 5th century BCE, the south was occupied by the Volsci, while in the East, the Latins became threatened by Aequi expansion. For the greatest part of this century, Rome had to defend itself in the Alban hills, while going through a phase of stagnation, internal strife and economic decline. It was only in the decades following the conquest of the neighboring Etruscan city Veii in 392 BCE (Livius, Dionysius) that the rise of Rome to ancient superpower status would truly begin.

Due to the later dominance of Rome, even this early era of Roman history is well covered by ancient sources. However, these accounts were all composed several centuries after the described events. The early historians of Rome and their Greek counterparts tried to reconstruct a coherent narrative of Rome's first centuries out of the evidence still available to them. For the modern historians, which have much less material to work with, it has become in many ways barely possible to judge the accuracy of their ancient predecessors.

Archeology too can only partially help to unravel the first centuries of the Roman state. Excavations did show that archaic Rome was a wealthy city state which could afford to construct numerous monumental public buildings. Its limits, however, are revealed if we look for the boundaries of Rome's power and its internal organization.

An important document to answer this question is the first treaty between Rome and Carthage, which was only passed to us in Greek translation by Polybios (Book 3.22), a historian writing in the mid 2nd century BCE. Polybios dates the treaty to the first years of the Republic, for many a doubtful date. A crucial argument for the authenticity of this document is Polybios' remark that the archaic Latin could barely be understood by contemporary Romans, which fits well into what we know of archaic Latin and its development in the first centuries of the Republic.

The boundaries of Roman hegemony, as described in the Roman-Carthaginian treaty, is practically identical to the image given by the ancient historians for the last years of the regal era and thus also how they are drawn on this map.